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Analysis Paper Assignment (30% total, 10% each)
Throughout the semester, we will be learning about numerous scholarly approaches or lenses through which we can examine and interpret the appearance of religion in popular culture. These three papers will provide you with an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned from the readings and discussions and, after conducting some outside research, develop your own compelling analysis.
At three different points throughout the semester, you will submit (at least) a five-page, double-spaced paper articulating a clear, debatable analysis of religion in popular culture (whether it be from TV, websites, sports, apps, etc.). First, you will need to choose an example of religion as it appears in popular culture. This should be an example that you find outside of class (that is, not one that we’ve read about or discussed together); please pick something that personally interests, excites, outrages, or puzzles you! You will also get to choose which scholarly approach you’d like to apply, based upon the ones we have learned about recently in class. The available options are listed after the deadlines below. Finally, you will also need to discover and incorporate (at least) two outside sources into each paper, one of which should be scholarly, but both of which should be cited properly. (If you need some help determining the difference between scholarly and other types of sources, I can point you toward one of JMU’s helpful liaison librarians, with whom you can make an appointment.) You should recall that, in each chapter, our book provides a section on “applying” that particular theory or framework; use the book as a treasure trove of specific examples of analyses to inspire your own work.
Important note: I am totally open to you offering your analysis in a format other than a paper, such as a video, podcast, website, etc., if that will engage you more. Just come to talk to me about your idea well in advance, so that we can ensure it’s viable and amenable to being graded using the same rubric as the paper (see page 2).
The End Result:
Submit a typed, double-spaced, Word document of your paper on Canvas by class time (9:05am) on the deadline. At the very least, this document should include your name, a title, and page numbers.
- Paper 1: Monday, 10/9 (Marxism or Culturalism)
- Paper 2: Monday, 11/6 (Performativity, Feminism, or Racism and Anti-Racism)
- Paper 3: Monday, 12/4 (Orientalism, Subcultures and Post-Subcultures, or Digital Media)
This assignment contributes to the following learning outcomes for the course:
- Analyze instances of popular culture for their religious significance and representation using different cultural studies approaches.
- Develop and respond to various interpretations of religion in popular culture, verbally and in writing, within a community of diverse perspectives.
- Connect the course to your own questions, interests, commitments, and activities.